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22 June 2006

22nd June - Birds nesting

Everyone works hard here - this "Citoyen" is so saturated with pollen he can hardly fly.

Valerie and John at the Art Gallery opening at Besanceuil

The goldfinch has been hard at work! The first photograph had only three eggs - and hey presto the results of several days work..

We have had so many problems with out computers – the power here is very dodgy and surges any time there is a thunderstorm floating around. Very frustrating as we like to be on line a great deal. Yes there was lightning, and rumbling thunder in the distance, but unfortunately the rain missed us. It was badly needed, so back to watering the garden again.

Valerie Blake was here last weekend and helped John with her research on the Blake family (John’s mother) as best she could. They went through family trees and records she had obtained. John has put it all on tape recorder and is now transcribing it. It should all contribute a great deal to the final memoir. And next week we will go to Brittany to visit Maria Blake, a first cousin of John’s who might be able to help with the research and certainly her memories of growing up at Ballyglunin.

We went into the market on Saturday and wandered around at the Haras (National Stud) where there were many mares – in fact it was like a maternity ward. Some beautiful babies already born and some mares still waiting. The fields around Cluny are full of beautiful horses with their slender babies.

In the late afternoon we were invited to an art show opening at a beautiful gallery at Besanceuil. The gallery is in an old stone building, a converted barn, with two large fields beside it containing large sculptures on display. It was a gorgeous evening, so we were happy to go to a friend’s house nearby for an aperitif where there were a whole gang of people gathered for a fun evening.

The next day we went for a long walk up hill opposite our house on “le petit chemin” with waves of beautiful perfume from walking on wild mint, and stunning views. We then descended and climbed up the other side walking around the lavoir where we stopped for a cool rest and drink before returning home. It was pretty hot – around 30 degrees – so two hours was certainly long enough for walking and we were happy to hide inside for the rest of the day in the cool house.

I had noticed some small birds flying in and out of our vine on the “galerie” in front of our house from time to time. I started clipping the vines to trim the branches which were not bearing fruit. What a lovely surprise. I came upon a beautiful little nest, tiny and perfectly round, made from soft wool and hair and twigs, ensconced among the vine leaves. When our neighbour Jacqueline was here this morning she climbed up the ladder to look and there were three eggs inside. I handed up my camera and asked her to take a picture which came out beautifully. She came over a short time later with her bird book and identified it as a “le chardonneret élégant” in English a goldfinch. There are birds nesting everywhere, including under the barn roof, so we can expect to be surrounded by babies very soon. We will have to be on guard against our neighbour’s cats. Its fascinating to watch the gorgeous little mother sitting there - I can see her from the little window above where I have my computer - she fiddles around, facing different directions, looks as if she is rearranging the eggs, perhaps turning them over or something.

The garden is absolutely wonderful, producing raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries and salad already. We tried to pick some cherries yesterday, but most of them are just too high up for our small ladder. The birds can enjoy them instead – and they are. It’s a huge old tree, higher than our house and laden with fruit.

Valerie left this morning on her way back to Ireland, via England. We have had a quiet day, reading and writing a bit. We visited our 90 yr old neighbour Madame Lafôret this morning and brought the lap top to show her the photograph of the nest and of course our grandchildren.

So life continues gently here with no more visitors until near the end of July. Just travels to Brittany next week.
I have been basket making - in fact have made a huge log basket which I will put on the site too when I have taken a photograph and have finished the final fiddly bits. Lots of fun making it. Hope to start another one very soon. perhaps a large platter, or some table mats.... who knows, a fruit basket etc. The courtyard is such an inspiring place to work.

We went to Chalon to see the transport people about next year's tour, and it looks as though it will have to be two camions. As we go north to Chalon we follow an old Roman road, and the houses, chateaux and villages are out of fairy tales. On the way back we called in to a motel in Cluny to talk to them about next year and will start the round of the other hotels etc when we come back from Brittany, to try to reserve accommodation. Then persuade locals to have a meal at their house.... lots to do anyway.
What a busy week coming up with trip to Brittany, about 8 hours drive. We have never explored that part of France before, but apparently its beautiful. While we are there we also visit Pascal Nuttall, daughter of our neighbour here in Chateau who has a special farm, raising rare fowl. We will then try to be back for a big party here on Thursday evening, when Jean Paul leaves Chateau. Sad. Then the local Amical Summer Feast on Saturday night..... lucky I have my cholesterol tablets. July should be fairly quiet, but lots to do for the tour next year. I expect the garden will need lots of attention when we return from Brittany.

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